No matter what is happening on Wall Street — or on Main Street for that matter — people still need to eat.
And yet in recent years it sometimes has been hard to tell if agriculture is actually an authorized activity in the Tri-Counties.
Water pollution from Los Angeles County has threatened Ventura County’s citrus crops. Farmland everywhere has given way to now-vacant housing developments.
Overreaching environmental groups in Santa Barbara County have attempted to put new rules into place to sharply curb viticulture, and a broccoli farmer in Santa Maria was actually arrested for planting crops in what turned out to be not much more than a puddle.
During the past few years, however, there has been growing recognition that our wineries, strawberry fields, citrus and avocado orchards are among the most productive in the world.
Agriculture’s multibillion-dollar impact in the Tri-Counties has been recognized by environmental groups as a valuable contributor to economic stability. Farmers have begun to recognize that environmentally friendly land stewardship can pay big dividends in terms of water quality—and cut costs.
Meanwhile, there is a growing consensus that issues such as farmworker housing must come to the forefront of preserving agriculture and making it competitive in a global marketplace.
That’s why we were pleased to see the launch of the Santa Barbara Ag Futures Alliance, a new group that will bring many of the same parties together that already have struck up a constructive dialog at the Ventura County Ag Futures Alliance, one of five already in existence in California.
Among those who have joined up for the Santa Barbara group are the League of Women Voters in Santa Maria, the Environmental Defense Center and Rincon Corp.
These sorts of organizations can fizzle if they don’t create a constructive set of solutions on agriculture. But with proper feed and watering they can help work on the complex issues needed to keep our farmers and ranchers on top of the global agriculture game.